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Style

One of the things that people tell you about Europeans and people in the UK is that they all dress up a lot more than people in the States. For women, this might be true. Welsh women, and most of the women at the University, it seems, dress in a manner that is stylish, classy, relaxed, sophisticated, sexy, and casual, all at the same time. Jeans are not banned from the female wardrobe, but it seems as if they put more emphasis on designer clothes and nice clothes.

Shoes here are supposed to be different as well. In the preparation session at Pitzer, we were told that we should probably not bring sneakers over, as NOBODY wears them except for exercising and running. Thus, I brought over a pair of brown leather shoes and a pair of black leather shoes, leaving my regular trashy shoes at home. However, when I got to the University, I found that, as far as footwear was concerned, I was in the minority. ALL of the men here seem to wear "trainers" (cross-trainers) and the more beat up they are, it sometimes seems, the better. Going out clubbing, men might want a nice pair of shoes, but for everyday use, you are fine to come over in your pair of Adidas (probably the most popular brand) and just kick around.
Women will probably want to wear nicer shoes than men; however, in casual settings, many do just choose to kick around in trainers.

Men also have it easier when it comes to clothes. For classes and normal day wear, you can get away with wearing those Adidas or Umbro (or any sports brand) warm-up pants, a tee-shirt, polo shirt, sweater or jacket, and, if you want, a hat. Jeans are common, but usually people don't wear clothes baggy at all. For night wear, fitted slacks (black and grey are common) will probably get you into any club, with a long-sleeved or short-sleeved button-up shirt (NOT tucked in) and casual/dress shoes. Jeans will get you into many places, but clubs often have strict casual/dressy codes.

For women, clubbing means tight sorority-pants and a tight shirt - but, unlike many places around large Universities in the states, it does not mean that you can dress like a "skag." Sexy but sophisticated is the norm.

Also, name brands are very important here, even if no tag or banner is seen. For the most part, the people that I have met are more conscious of the designer of the clothes than many Americans. Americans will often settle with less important brands if it suits the need, such as Hanes white shirts, and I know quite a few American girls who think it no wrong to wear clothes from, say, Target, or the brands that some department stores produce. If function is met, and the prices are lower, then it often does not matter who produces the clothes. However, in Cardiff, it seems to me that almost all people are incredibly style-conscious, wearing almost exclusively name-brand clothing - indeed, it is hard to find anything else. Big-name British clothing brands, due to a lack of outside competition, seem to have a virtual monopoly on trends and fashion. I personally have found it hard to find cheaper, not name-brand clothing stores in the city center, where most domestic trade is carried out. Plus, things are almost universally more expensive here. Wal-Mart just bought out a chain of drug stores here, and have started selling items at US prices - a move that has put all of the other drug stores into a panic, as they are used to selling things for almost twice what they would cost in the US. It is really ridiculous in many cases - for example, to buy a tube of toothpaste, one might expect to spend, at the most, $3. Here, at many common pharmacies, one would expect to pay 2-3 - possibly twice as much as in America. Clothing prices reflect this as well; for a shirt that I would have paid $15 in the states, one would easily expect to pay 15-20, and quite possibly more.